In a match that swung in momentum both ways at Riverhead High School Wednesday night, with Riverhead and Copiague essentially trading punches throughout, Riverhead finished with the final blow, winning its first league meet of the season, 45-41.
It was all Riverhead (1-0) to start with 99-pounder Mark Matyka pinning Ed Rodriguez with nine seconds left in the first. Matyka had fallen behind 5-0 before scoring 11 straight points leading to a pin.
After a Copiague forfeit at the 106-weight class, Kerry Thomas put on a clinic at 113-pounds, out-muscling and ultimately out-smarting his opponent to cruise to victory by way of pin with 26 seconds left in the second period after leading 7-0.
Ed Matyka, Riverhead’s most dominant wrestler, who head coach Wade Davey expects to win a county championship at 120 pounds, wrestled to perfection. He earned a pin with one second remaining in the first period after jumping out to a quick 9-0 lead. He registered his first point with a takedown just four seconds into the match.
The 126-pound class was the match of the day. Copiague’s Ed Ortez is the best wrestler on the Eagles, according to Davey, so this match was crucial to win if the Blue Waves were going to take the victory.
“I expect Cody to win every time but that kid is really good,” Davey said of Ortez. “He beat Cody in the dual meet last year pretty handily but then Cody beat him 6-5 in the league so it was going to be a battle.”
Weiss fell behind 2-0 early before registering an escape to cut the lead to 2-1 at the end of the first period. Ortez then committed an illegal move at the start of the second period to surrender another point, tying up the score. Weiss then countered an attack by Ortez and escaped to earn another point, making it 3-2. But Ortez came storming back with a takedown before the end of the second period to make it 4-3 in his favor. Weiss wouldn’t back down. He was credited with an escape in the third period to tie it up again and with just two seconds remaining, he slammed Ortez to the mat to earn a takedown and victory.
But most importantly, it put Riverhead ahead 27-0.
“Cody approached the match the right way,” Davey said. “He outshot the kid the whole match. The kid was on defense the entire time and Cody pancaked him for the win. It was a quality win.”
But that’s when things went downhill.
Copiague (0-1) won the 132-pound weight class 11-1 and then earned a pin at 138-pounds and then another at 145-pounds and yet another at 152-pounds. The Eagles had made it a true battle.
Riverhead held a narrow lead, 27-22.
Then came the 160-pound slot. Mitchell Hobbs, who Davey had high hopes about coming into the season, came out sluggish.
“Start wrestling, will ya?” yelled Davey as Hobbs fell behind 4-0 going into the third period.
“Our premise is that you go out shooting,” Davey said, after the meet. “And there was no shooting. He was out there preventing wrestling and that’s just terrible.”
Davey kept yelling on the side, trying to will Hobbs to victory and in an instant, Copiague’s AJ Batista was on his back. Hobbs squeezed and squeezed as the referee looked on critically and suddenly the referee slammed his hand down, declaring the victory and putting an end to the Eagles onslaught.
“He is capable of pinning which is why I started him on top in the third period,” Davey said. “But still, I expected more from him.”
Raheem Brown, in an unexpected result, was pinned at 170-pounds as was Jerry Lopez at 180-pounds and Copiague took its first lead of the meet, 34-33.
For Riverhead to win, it would have to be up to Jaiden Blom at 195-pounds and Justin Hansel at 220-pounds to come up big. They did just that.
Blom and Hansel both earned pins, Blom in the third period and Hansel in the second to seal the victory.
“Blom’s match was huge and so was Hansel’s,” Davey said. “The kid Hansel wrestled finished third in the league last year at heavy weight and that’s another one of their better kids and that goes to show you how far Hansel’s come.”
“Hansel’s really turned the page,” Davey continued. “He’s wrestling the right way. If we could get the rest of the guys doing the same thing we could be really successful.”
But overall, Davey was satisfied but not pleased.
“Winning is good but we have a lot of work to do,” Davey said. “A lot of work to do.”
Riverhead will play in an invitational tournament at Amityville High School on Dec 29 before resuming their league schedule on Jan 7 at Smithtown West.
Top photo caption: Cody Weiss earned a takedown and a win over Ed Ortez.
RiverheadLOCAL photos by George Faella
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